Online Meets Offline
By Hallie Mummert
Get your best results ever with channel-integrated campaigns.
In a study of more than 130 retailers conducted earlier this year by Forrester Research for Shop.org, multichannel (catalog, store and Web) retailers reported more than 46 percent of their customers who typically buy online also make purchases offline, and 17 percent of their customers who primarily shop offline also make online purchases.
What's more, 15 percent of offline purchases are influenced by information gathered on the retailer's Web site, according to the study.
This kind of cross-channel information-gathering and purchasing behavior adds a new dimension to direct marketing. Companies are no longer able to consider print, broadcast or retail campaigns as being independent of the Web—or each other, really. Instead, direct marketers are finding that it takes a blend of media to reach their target audience and influence sales, as well as to provide these consumers with multiple avenues for making purchases.
While multichannel marketing requires a good deal of organization to coordinate the timing and content of marketing messages across channels, says John Ganis, president of list management at Edith Roman Associates, the upside is that it tends to produce higher response rates.
According to a 2001 study by J.C. Williams and BizRate.com for Shop.org, people who are more likely to shop through a company's catalog, Web site and store purchase four times more frequently from that company's site than the average online shopper. They also purchase more than twice as frequently from that company's catalog than the average catalog shopper.
A key to successful multichannel marketing is finding the most cost-effective combination and sequence of media.
Ganis, who works with B-to-B companies, notes that many of his clients use a contact sequence of e-mail followed by direct mail. Depending on the product or service being offered—such as a conference registration—e-mail followed by telemarketing is the preferred contact strategy for B-to-B marketers, he explains.